This is an updated look at The Duck Test.
For those ranking Wikipedians who toil day in and day out, with no hope of remuneration, there can be another kind of reward: the satisfaction of knowing that one’s personal set of prejudices, or what is known at Wikipedia as one’s Point of View (POV), has become the dominant one on a given set of articles. Once an editor has ascended high enough in the pecking order, becoming one of Wikipedia’s leading peckers, he or she may hope to have his or her prejudices incorporated into the “House POV.” But Wikipedia articles change frequently — how does one defend the House POV against interlopers? Initially it was not easy, but as Wikipedia has evolved and matured over the years, the means of defense have been perfected in the “Duck Test.”
Because Wikipedians edit using pseudonymous
…continue reading Ducks Redux
By E. A. Barbour
(See also Wiki-Paranoia Part I)
Another piece of the Wikipedia puzzle is the role of Usenet newsgroups in the evolution of “wiki-culture”. Usenet was one of the earliest features of the Internet, popular long before it was all opened to the public in 1994. Newsgroups served as “bulletin boards” before the World Wide Web was invented. Since they were usually hosted on university servers and passed freely from node to node, they gained the same libertine culture as the hacker underground. In the late 1990s, use (and abuse) of Usenet for file sharing exploded, and anyone who wanted to push a minority, obscure, or “crank” point of view could usually find a home on a related newsgroup. It became a central point for protests against the Church of Scientology, since it was difficult to attack using attorneys and court orders. Before backbone servers and ISPs started blocking or disabling Usenet in the
…continue reading Wiki-Paranoia ~ PART II: Newsgroup Trolls, Gays and Patrollers
By Gregory Kohs
Sue Gardner in conversation with the notorious Derrick Coetzee
In 2010, Wikimedia Foundation executive director Sue Gardner bemoaned the fact that only 13 percent of Wikipedia’s contributing editors were women. She blogged about it, she chimed in on discussions on the Foundation’s mailing list, and even The New York Times reported on it, which spawned at least a dozen other news outlets mirroring the story.
Sue Gardner made it one of her top priorities to get more women writing those Wikipedia articles, setting a goal to raise their share from 13 percent to 25 percent, by the year 2015. And the Wikimedia Foundation funded Gardner in part to complete that objective with a personal compensation package of $240,159 (in fiscal 2010). So, it has to be very disheartening for Ms. Gardner to learn that a more recent study finds that her efforts apparently are pushing Wikipedia’s
…continue reading Female editors growing scarce at Wikipedia
By Andreas Kolbe
Wikipedia contains over half a million biographies of living persons, for people ranging from Barack Obama to local shopkeepers. Yet the core editors whose job it is to ensure that all of these biographies comply with Wikipedia policies number only a few thousand. And while the number of biographies rises daily, editor retention rates in Wikipedia are currently plummeting. (The slide showing editor retention data is known within the Wikimedia Foundation as the “Holy Shit slide”.)
Biographies of major figures like a US President are usually fairly well watched over, and in quite good shape. But for little watched biographies at the other end of the notability spectrum covered by Wikipedia, things look very different.
What happens with minor biographies is that they are often only frequented by anonymous people who have a dislike for the biography subject, or at any rate have neither the interest nor the writing skills to produce a
…continue reading Wikipedia needs to abandon ADAM
by E. A. Barbour
As any regular watcher of Wikipedia can attest, the coverage of corporations on Wikipedia is spotty, and is often blatantly hostile–or blatantly positive. One of my favorites is still the Kirby Company. When I first looked at it in 2010, it was the ugliest hit-piece I’d ever seen on en-wiki, almost nothing about the company but a long list of legal problems and rape-prone salesmen. Then, in late 2011, some mysterious person tripled the article’s length, with material that looked like a company press packet. Things like this happen on a near-continuous basis; a company rep or other paid editor writes a glowing company biography and posts it on en-WP, a left-wing agitator erases it and posts a long rant about the firm’s legal problems, then another company rep shows up and changes it all again. Back and forth, they quietly pass the salami. If the WMF weren’t so profoundly pathetic,
…continue reading The Magical Sock Farms of Walt Disney